Independent think-tank Localis has today set out an ambitious set of innovative and practical ideas from itself and 20 leading housing experts detailing how a housebuilding-led recovery could drive economic and social renewal as the nation emerges from the Covid-19 lockdown.
The proposals and suggestions are contained in an essay collection entitled “Building for renewal: Kickstarting the C19 housing recovery” which encompasses how housing policy and the planning system could be directed to promoting opportunity and prosperity, building sustainable communities as well as supporting lives and engaging with society during the recovery.
Contributions for promoting opportunity and prosperity include suggestions for investment in a new generation of social housing and bringing forward council housebuilding investment programmes; provision of key worker housing; risk-sharing and flexibility of tenures and levelling up housing through wider access to the new Single Housing Infrastructure Fund.
Calls for better place-led investment include arguments for: –
- Protecting social investment and new partnership models for investment;
- Extending the role of Homes England as housing accelerator with new powers over surplus public sector land and support of spatial plan delivery;
- Supporting SMEs to accelerate growth and the role of garden settlements;
- Finding new forms of funding to inject new liquidity into the housing market – including the use of SIPPs for residential property investment, greater deployment of patient capital for social investment and pension fund investment.
Suggestions for using the housing agenda to support the vulnerable and engage better with society include: –
- Innovative approaches to tackling the challenges of an ageing society;
- Reaching younger people and those from diverse background to contribute to planning for a green future;
- Use of digital engagement in building trust and embedding social value in development.
Essays exploring the role of the planning system in creating successful and sustainable communities include arguments for: –
- Extending planning permissions for a further 12 months and making build-out a pre-requisite of Government funding or planning permissions;
- Granting short-term planning freedoms including an extension of permitted development rights as part of a programme to deliver long-term housing growth;
- Case for demanding spatial plans be produced by infrastructure authorities to support “good growth” and as a pre-requisite for additional Government funding;
- The digital transformation of planning and empowerment of local authorities to plan pro-actively.
Cllr Paul Carter, chair of the Localis C19 Housing Commission, said: “In Britain, we have a housing and construction industry to be proud of and the challenges it faces are very real. As a local government leader and senior councillor for many years, and with a lifelong career as a housebuilder, I have experienced at first hand significant economic recessions.
“This report presents an array of innovation, ideas and recommendations to kickstart the housebuilding recovery and get the national economy firing again on all cylinders.”
Localis chief executive, Jonathan Werran, said: “Given the gravity of the situation we find ourselves in, housing’s fundamental social and economic role and transformative capacity to drive change and growth assumes even greater significance.
“What was already a radical and exciting agenda for housing in the aftermath of last December’s general election result now becomes a pivotal ‘win or lose’ moment for national renewal.
“This paper sets out some astute and creative thoughts from a broad range of individual experts and organisations as to how we might use the primacy of place to direct a return to housing growth.
“Uniquely, by kickstarting housebuilding we can directly unlock recovery in ways that can not only overcome entrenched economic difficulties, but also renew our communities, helping society improve on what was before and genuinely build back better.”